Hear from Joanne Lowe, recipient of an Education NZ Prime Minister's Scholarship to Mumbai

Joanne undertook an 8 week internship at URBZ/Urbanology, a research project located in Mumbai. Their motto is “user generated cities”, and they seek to question and learn from the urban environment in order to improve it, in collaboration with those who are living there. Here is Joanne’s story!

"This internship was one of the scariest, most exciting and rewarding things I’ve had the pleasure of doing. I’m so grateful to CDES, PMSA and AIC for the opportunity and all their hard work in planning and making sure we were safe and on-track for applications, work and reports!

"CDES briefed us on what to expect before going to Mumbai and helped us prepare with a checklist. I think the most helpful tip was to manage our expectations which prepared us for the culture shock, the large number of people, and taking the trains.

"At first, it was quite daunting, I didn’t know if there would be a cultural or language barrier between colleagues. At times there were, but there were also a lot of similarities between the New Zealand and the Indian NGO work culture. Through this experience, I learnt to be more perseverant and patient, as we all had different understandings and ways of working, therefore it took time to work together cohesively.

"During my internship, I was able to develop my research, communication and teamwork skills. My main role was working on independent online research, but I also got the chance to plan a project which involved other researches from different universities. Through this experience, I worked with other interns and other researchers to whom I am extremely grateful to have met. They were supportive, kind and welcoming and I hope to collaborate with them again in the future.

"I gained knowledge about how Dharavi is dealing with air quality, mangrove health and sea-level rise. With my first-hand experience about how poorer communities have a smaller contribution to climate change, yet they experience the worst effects of it. My internship led me to this issue of the imbalance in the costs and benefits of climate change, which is something I want to explore and address in my future studies and work.

"I loved exploring and walking around the city to hunt for specific food or clothing shops that were recommended to me. I slowly ticked off the ‘top things to do in Mumbai’ list in the evenings after work or on the weekends with other UoA interns! Some of my favourite memories were exploring Juhu beach, Malabar Hill, Jala Ghoda Festival (annual arts and culture festival) and the Taj Mahal. I loved getting to know some of the culture and history of Mumbai, and I want to go back and visit other states someday!

"My main key takeaway is to be proactive and make the most of your experience and internship! People are a lot more straightforward in Mumbai, and in such a big city you can’t be afraid to ask for what you need or want. This was a very valuable lesson for me, as someone who tends to be overly careful and polite. I pushed myself to use my connections in India and to explore Mumbai by myself – I was most rewarded by these during my experience.

"I think international internships are extremely rewarding and important. This experience can help students expand their perspectives in their studies and future work. Connecting with people in another country and learning to work in an unfamiliar setting is an important part of creating better understandings and collaboration between countries. I recommend doing an overseas internship because you’ll gain so much independence and patience from working in a new city and culture. You get to travel and explore new cities on weekends and after work, as well as making new friends and connections. You’ll face unmet expectations and disappointments, but you’ll get through it!"